Facility time was back on the Local Government Conference agenda as stewards and activists find their time for union work more and more squeezed.
Delegates at successive conferences have been highlighting this problem for the past four years and condemned a lack of response in addressing these issues, especially when it comes to representing and negotiating in the voluntary and community sector.
Edinburgh’s John Stevenson quoted two previous motions from his branch on the issue and backed the principle of the motion from West Sussex. However he cautioned that Edinburgh did not wholly agree with the criticism of activity based budgets in branches.
“As a branch that has submitted two previous motions about how we organise and represent members in the voluntary and community sector, we fully back the principles in this motion that we have a facility time issue, a resource issue and an organisational issue to address”, John told delegates.
“I see branch officers working into the evening, people getting stressed by the pressures and stewards backing out because they are finding the job is too big.
“But while we support the principles of the motion, we are less critical of the activity based budgeting in branches.
“Because as part of that process our branch has benefitted from £37k as part of a strategy to employ someone to organise, recruit and do casework in the voluntary and community sector.”
John argued that the problem we had to address was wider and more complex.
“We need a concerted effort by the lay and full time structures to address not only the issue of representation of members across the diverse employers we organise in, but we also need to address the democratic deficit that stops members in these employesr from participation in their branch and our national structures.
“We can’t carry on having a two-tier membership”, he said.